Art therapy is a methodology that uses the creative process of making art with the goal of improving a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Patients use art as a medium for expressing complicated emotions connected to their own personal traumas. By becoming more in touch with their inner self, patients find peace and freedom from anxieties.

Music therapy, like art therapy, aims to improve a person’s overall well-being. However, it goes beyond simply creating and instead professionals recommend either creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music based on the patient’s needs. Music has the power to transform the brain more than any other thing. It can do everything from triggering repressed memories to soothing extreme stress.

Addiction in America

Substance abuse and addiction are real problems affecting the lives of people in the United States. According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 22.7 million Americans (8.6 percent) needs treatment for a substance abuse problem related to drugs or alcohol. However, only about 2.5 million people (0.9 percent) are able to receive appropriate treatment for their addiction.

Treatment for addiction is tricky. Different techniques work for individuals. Behavioral therapy — in particular, cognitive behavioral therapy — are generally recommended for helping people, but it doesn’t often work all on its own. Utilizing a combination of therapies can help ensure recovery from substance abuse and addiction.

Art and Music Therapy for Addiction

Art and music therapy are two excellent treatments that can supplement other addiction recovery therapies. People are drawn to these therapies because they are enjoyable and people like being able to express themselves creatively. Making a therapy enjoyable encourages people to stick with it and to let down their inhibitions so they can explore their thoughts and emotions at a deeper level.

Creative therapies also give people a medium for expressing difficult emotions they can’t quite put into words. People sometimes have trouble articulating feelings that relate to trauma, but exploring them can help them move on. Getting lost in music or art also helps people practice mindfulness, which may help prevent relapse. Furthermore, creating something boosts self-esteem, which can aid in recovery.

There are different art forms therapists can use for this treatment. Whether it’s watercolor, acrylic, or oils, painting is a wonderful way for those suffering with addiction to cope. Not only is painting a quiet, soothing activity, it allows an artist to bring out whatever emotions they’re dealing with onto the paper or canvas and leave it there. Because drugs and alcohol can dull a person’s emotions, painting can bring you back to yourself, little by little. Collage, photography, digital art and sculpture are other techniques that can be used.

As mentioned before, there are various ways therapists can use music as a way to treat patients. Listening to music with storylines or lyrics that encourage people to get in touch with their feelings and traumatic memories. Therapists can then discuss the music with their patients and explore pertinent themes. Other means for using music as a form of therapy include playing instruments, songwriting, playing games that use music, and encouraging socialization with group playing and drum circles.


Art and music therapy tap into a person’s creative side to help them heal from past traumas. Often when people suffer from trauma, they turn to drugs and alcohol, which can lead to a full-fledged addiction. Fortunately, art therapy and music therapy are both effective treatments that can help people recover. They allow patients to express difficult emotions in a creative way while promoting mindfulness and self-esteem.

Blog Compliments of Kimberly Hayes